Writing Club

So, a few good friends and I have started something of a writing club each week. I have to admit, this is more-or-less my fault. I mentioned that I hadn't done any real writing creatively in ages, and aske for help. Their answer was to provide me with a prompt to write to. And I did.

I'm going to use this page to track the prompts we use, and my responses to them.

A Year In Review: 2017

So, at the beginning of the year I set some goals. Lets see how I did. (Spoliers, not well.)

  • Spend more quite time alone
    • Result: Yeah, I did poorly on this. Some thigns in my life changed and I haven't had the same amount of alone time as I did before. But even so, I also failed to make the time to do this. I stopped thinking about it and so I stopped doing it. I'm going to carry this forward to next year and try (again) to pay more attention to this.
  • Meditation
    • Result: While I didn't do this how I said I was going do, I did a decent job with this. Meditaion has become part of my daily routine between 3 and 5 days a week. Its not a long sit, only 10 minutes, but it is very helpful.
  • Read different things
    • Result: Nope, not even a little. I didn't read/listen to nearly as many books this year. And the ones I did were pretty much right in my wheelhoues.
  • Professional Development
    • Result: Another one I didn't put the effort in that I should have. Nothing to show for this year.
  • Fitness
    • Result: If its possible, I made negative progress on this. In the last few months, I've had less time, and I've deveoted even less of that time to being fit. As a result, I got fat(er). I've started in earnest to correct that.
  • HPR
    • Result: While 2017 isn't over yet, and I could still submit a show, I haven't.
  • Write more often:
    • Result: Well, I didn't write many reflections this year, but in the past weeks, I've begun making an effort with friends to do some small writing each week. I might end up sharing them here too.

So, that's my 2017 in review. On paper, it looks like I failed pretty hard. But I didn't. I only failed at the things I thought I was going to be doing.

Its beena hard year, but a really good year none-the-less. Thank you to everyone that helped make it that way.


Being digitally adopted

I know I haven't written in a while. I also know that I don't write very well. But, as I always say, this is for me to work through things more than anything else. Today, the thing I have to work through is being overwhelmed with positive feelings. This is a thing that's been happening slowly, as these things tend to. But rather than talking about talking about it, I'll dive right in.

I've spoken at length about what family means to me, so I won't go into that again, but what I have to say today is related. So maybe read that first?

Anyway, in the past 16 months or so I've been slowly adopted by a new digital family. I have never met a more beautiful bunch of misfits and oddballs in my life. We've self-described as a bunch of lost puppies, being gathered up, and as the island of misfit toys. Both feel accurate. It feels like we fit together because we don't fit elsewhere.

This is not the first time in my life I've been part of such a group either. In Highschool, my social circle was a similar island of misfit toys, I just didn't realize it at the time.

Everyone in this circle has made room in their lives for me, and I them. I've had my eyes opened to a lot of things that I didn't know that I didn't know, and felt safe doing it. I've been overwhelmed by kindness, openness, generosity, and family love. We've shared fears, joys, sadness. Welcomed in little tiny humans into our hearts, and stood together as some of us have had to say goodbye to loved ones. Job changes and cross-country moves. In short, life.

A few things have happend recently that have made it clear to me that, yes I am, in fact, part of this family. That's not always been an easy thing for me to tell, which is why I almost feel sucker-punched (with happiness) by it. The most recent of these is that a "digital family portriat" was comissioned, as a composite of individual pictures. These are all the "digital self image" of people, but through the eyes of the person comissoining it. (Basically, this is how that person pictures each of us, based on our personality, and only lightly informed by our actual looks).

Here's the family picture:


And here's the one of me:


I feel like I've written a lot of loosely connected thoughts here. I haven't made much (if any) sense. So I'll just close with:

To my fellow Aggrochat'ers: You are my people. You gave me a home when I desperately needed one (and didn't even know it). I cannot possibly tell you how much you all mean to me.

Love & Respect,


PS: Credit where credit is due. The amazing art here is by Ammo. You can find her other works here or contat her on Twitter

Not keeping up

So, back in December I wrote about a bunch of plans for 2017. And so far, I've done a very poor job of hitting any of them. Here's a rundown

Quite Time Alone: I've done this a few times, and I find it very invigorating, but also not something I can do a lot. My mind tends to wander and I don't get the full experience so much as a meandering walk through my thoughts. Not that such a walk is a bad thing. Its allowed me to work through issues or ideas. But its not what I want to get out of it. I plan to redouble my efforts to spend some time along each week.

Meditation: I've done alright on this. While I haven't done 15 minutes 3 days a week, what I have done is 10 minutes 2-3 mornings a week. As for the mindfulness meditation, I've given up on that specific idea as not really for me. I've also added a weekly yoga practice to my mind/body regiment.

Reading: I haven't "read" as much recently. Part of this is because of a change to the audiobook checkout system my library uses that has mostly locked me out.

Professional Development: This is still ongoing. While I haven't made progress, I didn't set any short term goals either.

HPR: I haven't done an HPR show, yet. But I do have one in the planning stages. We'll see how quickly I get this turned out.

Writing: As is abundantly clear, I haven't been writing nearly as much as I'd planned on. Part of that is that I don't have as much to say as I thought. Part of it is that when I do, I'm not in a place to say it. Part of it is lack of energy. And part of it is simple laziness.

So, there it is. I'll try to do a better job going forward.


On Family

Family is a strange and wonderful thing.

The best, and most important, thing I've learned about family is that its not determined solely by biology. Being related is not the same as being family. Often times they are. Bonds are formed out of long term exposure and similar up-bringing. But this isn't the only, or the most meaningful, kind of family. The more meaningful kind of family are the people you meet in life that you know, without a doubt, will always be there for you, and you'll always be there for them.

I've been really lucky. I have both. It took me quite a while to connect with the family I was born into, because of age differences and because of who I was as a teenager, but I'm finally making those connections and am grateful for the chance. We're a group of nerdy foodies and its a wonderful experience.

As for the family I've found, this includes a whole slew of folks that have very much made my life better and more complete. This probably started at about 14, thou I didn't realize it at the time. I slowly made a friend, and he became a brother. His family became mine, and mine his. That was 16 years ago, and it hasn't changed. At 17 I met a young woman and found the other half of myself. At 18 I met another brother, a other whole family almost 1000 miles away from where I was born. And now, as I enter my 30's I've connected with more people than I can could that are like cousins or aunts/uncles.

To all of you, I love you. I appreciate you, and I'll always be there for you when you need me. You've gotten me through some of the best and worst parts of my life. You've stood with my as I've taken my vows, and I've stood with you. I would not be who I am today without you.


Dealing with a bad situation

2015 VW Golf

I've had some practical experince in the last few weeks at learning how to remain calm, polite, and focused in a rather crappy situation. This has been especially hard because I caused this situation.

The short version is, I had a dumb. I was distracted while pulling into my driveway and hit a large ice pile (iceberg, I swear). I was mildly concerned about my car and got out to do a cursory inspection. I found nothing looking amiss on the exterior, and assumed all was well. I pulled it into my garage and heard/saw fluid gushing out the bottom of the car. Now, I'm no gear-head, but even I realized that was likely really bad.

Much damage was done, and then the saga of bad luck really began in earnest. This was a holiday weekend, so fuck-all happened that day. Then my lovely wife had it towed to our local mechanic who said he could take care of it and just needed the insurance adjuster to come out before he got started. Except that took 3 more days. And then, when re-assessing the damage, he determined he couldn't do the work. So we had to have it taken to another shop. Which took an entier day (the car moved like 4 miles). And didn't arrive until about 15:30 on a Friday. So, again, fuck-all happens. This makes a week where literally no progress has been made.

That entire week I worked from home. This is not a think I care to do. I much prefer to be in the office.

Then, on the Monday of the second week, the in-house estimator at the dealership was out. Then I was promised that they'd get it up on Tuesday and start looking at it. And that I'd have a call back by close of business that day. Didn't happen. The same happened on Wednesday. Finally, on Thursday determinations were made and parts ordered.

But that wasn't the only misfortune. To compensate for being car-less, I rented a car. This was surprisingly harder than expected. I had gone down to pick it up, and was informed that local policy stated that I had to have a credit card to pick up the car (after careful scrutiniy of the online reservation, I still cannot find this). This is problematic because neither my wife no I typically carry credit cards. While I have the restraint not to use it, I aid that restraint by simply not having it around. So, my wife and I had made a ~50 mile trip for nothing.

I finally got the rental car two days later, and am still waiting to see if my car gets finished on time.

Its been real challenge to not lash out at folks during this trying time, and one I've not always been up to. A few times I've lost my temper with folks (the rather understanding people at the car rental counter). But, the one major time I did, I went back a moment later and appologized. its undrestandable (but not acceptable) to loose your cool in a bad situtaion. Its NOT understandable to not acknowledge when you've been a tool and take responsibility.

So, this one's on me, and its been a real trip, but overall I think I've done OK not loosing my cool over all of it.


Day of the Tentacle on 64bit Arch Linux

So I recently bought the Humble Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle primarily because it had a few really cool sounding games that have native Linux support. And, being a Linux enthusiast, the best way to get more Linux games is to buy Linux games! But, being Linux, getting these games running isn't as simple as double-clicking an icon. So, here's my write up on what it took to get one of them (Day of the Tentacle, but Doublefine) running.

My Setup: I'm currently running a new installation of Arch Linux (x86_64) with the mesa drivers (for intel video cards).

Before installing packages, you'll need to have multilib enabled.

Packages I needed to install:

  • lib32-glibc
  • lib32-ncurses
  • lib32-libstdc++5
  • lib32-mesa
  • lib32-libgudev
  • lib32-libxrandr
  • lib32-libpulse
  • lib32-alsa-plugins

I found two other quirks that needed addressed. First was getting the LD_LIBRARY_PATH correct. Due to the structure of /usr/lib32/ and my 32bit openGL drivers not beeing found (they were in /usr/lib32/mesa. I did this by adding a line to /etc/ld.so.conf.d/lib32-glibc.conf like so

% cat /etc/ld.so.conf.d/lib32-glibc.conf

I don't know for sure if this is needed (this isn't an ordered list of what I did, but an summary and analysis of what should be required) as one of the other packages above might have corrected that for me.

Additionally, I had to launch Day of the Tentacle with a command line argument the first time and select a sound card, like so

./Dott --list-audio-devices
./Dott --audio-devices 0

And that should all that's required. If you find that I missed something, drop me a line and I'll update this guide as best I can.


On being an empath

So I've recently come to terms with the fact that I'm pretty strongly empathic.


And no, I don't mean Diana Troi emapthic either. I mean that when I am around someone feeling emotions strongly, I tend to feel an echo of them. Its rather interesting, and not always plesant.

Odd things happen. I tear up during powerful songs. Not just sorrowful songs, or songs that I really like, but anything powerful. Any song where the performer is pouring out emotion both in the content and delivery. Whatever that emotion is, a bit of it tends to rub off on me. Almost as if emotions were contagious, and I have little to no immunity. While this sometimes makes me quick to anger (especially when the other people involved are angry), it also makes me want to help people. The real struggle comes along because I'm also a fixer. I fix things. Its what I do. All day, every day. So, when I see people hurt, I want to fix that too. But often you can't. Some hurts can only be fixed with time. And so far we can only do time at one speed.

I think this, as much as my other reasons, is why writing is so good for me. It provides a fairly safe outlet for all these feelings that weren't mine to begin with, but I'm still feeling. And I know for a fact that venting through the keyboard works. But sometimes all these emotions, mine or reflected, are just exhausting. I'll sit down, all wrapped up one way or another, and the let things flow through my fingers. And a few minutes later I'll feel like a wrung out wash cloth.

Be kind and sensitive out there, you never know who else is feeling your emotions.


A week of firsts

As is fitting for the first week of the year, I've had several firsts this week. Mostly, its the first week I've been putting effort into my 2017 plan. Here's a quick update on the things I've accomplished.

  • I made it to the gym twice this week. I wasn't as effective there as I'd like to be, but part of that was due to unrelated mental state. I hope to do better in the coming week
  • I made time to meditate twice this week, but didn't specifically practice any midnfulness meditation.
  • I spent about 1/2 of a commute to work with just myself.

Bouns firsts (not directly related to stated goals):

  • My employer hosts a yoga class on Thursdays each week. I joined in for the first (and not last) time this week. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though I was sore for a few days after from a few of the poses that I was a bit over-eager with.
  • This is the first post that's being written on my new laptop, after a bit of an ordeal (maybe more on that later).
  • I made spicy yellow curry paste (I'm lead to believe this is the Indian style) from scratch, and then part of that became curry. It was quite good.

All of these together lead me to feeling like I'm in the dirvers seat of my life for the first time in quite a while. I've spent so much time reacting to the situations around me, that's its been a nice change to feel like I'm a little more in control of the chaos for once.

Go out, have a first, and enjoy.


Mindfulness for Beginners

So I decided to get a jump on my Plan for 2017 and "read" a book well outside my usual wheelhouse. A little background first, before I get into the meat of my thoughts on this book. Firstly, as I noted already, I've begun studying buddhism recently. I've thus far found it an interesting perspective on life. The Dali Lama said it best. I'm not studying buddhism to be buddhist. I'm studying it to have another tool to be a better me. But that's not _really_ the point of this post, since I've mostly covered that already. Its relevant because the book I'm reading is about Mindfulness and meditation. Its called Mindfulness for Beginners by John Kabat-Zinn. So far I have very mixed feelings about this book. While I find his points on the benefits of midfulness and mindful meditation insightful, its couched in very new-agey language. Its focused a lot on spirituality, and that's not really a thing that I'm looking for. The most amusing part its, several times in the portion I've already read, he's implied that this isn't "just some new-agey mumbo jumbo", and then turned around and sounded exactly like what he says he isn't.

UPDATE: I was unable to listen to much more of the book. The second half was a collection of mindfulness meditations that did not fit with my goals, nor how I consume my books.